According to the Office of National Statistics, almost eight in 10 British companies, including several fashion companies, are paying their male employees a higher salary – with a pay gap of over 20 per cent.
The discrepancy was highlighted after 9,961 businesses filed their reports by 5 pm on April 4, which showed that 7,755 firms paid male employees more money than their female staff, based on median hourly pay. Since 2017, all companies with more than 250 employees are obliged to publish their gender pay gap.
The findings also show there’s no real improvement in the gender pay gap between 2017 and 2018 – just a point one per cent lowering from 9.7% to 9.6%.
While nearly a third of businesses had gaps which were significantly worse than the national average for both full and part-time employees.
Private care home provider Vida Healthcare demonstrated the highest gender gap, paying women 21p for every £1 men earned. While other ‘big-gappers’ included HR service New Millennia Payroll at 74.3% and not-for-profit Suffolk GP Federation at 75%.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of The Fawcett Society called the data “disappointing, but not surprising. The regulations are not tough enough. It’s time for action plans, not excuses.” While MP Rachel Reeves, chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, added: “The figures show there is a long way to go to tackle the gender pay gap.”
Some companies suggested the reporting figures were skewed, including women’s clothing brand Sweaty Betty which filed a 66.6% pay gap. According to the fashion company, women occupied 96% of its highest-paid roles – but also 100% of its lowest-paid ones. However, it explained the reason for this was down to the “low numbers of men in our business”
Other companies offering explanations included healthcare company Care Fertility Group, which has a median gap of 66%. According to HR director Angela Regan, although men make up just 11% of the Care workforce, 81% of its male employees were directors, doctors or in IT, who happened to be higher earners. However, as Regan says, “70% of Care’s highest-paid quartile are female, suggesting women are able to progress their careers to our most senior roles…. We are confident that we do not have an issue of ‘equal pay’ within the organisation and we are committed to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to progress to the most senior or highly-paid positions.”
Said Smethers, “Employers need to set out a five-year strategy for how they will close their gender pay gaps, monitoring progress and results. But we also need to tackle all the causes of the pay gap – introduce more generous leave for fathers that they can afford to take, make every job flexible by default unless there is a strong business case not to do so, and deal with any outstanding pay discrimination that employers may find.”